It’s that time of year, when the trees are budding, the daffodils are in bloom and grass is
beginning to turn green.
But let’s be honest with ourselves.
As if on cue, the weather here in Middle Tennessee turned warm in late February and convinced many of us spring was here early. We were breaking out the shorts and flip-flops and rejoicing in the new warmth in our souls after a rather cold winter for these parts.
But, as is so often the case, that was just a teaser, and those daffodils and buds froze just a couple of weeks later.
The calendar might say March, and you might have sprung forward over the weekend, but the cold weather isn’t done with us yet. Just ask anyone who witnessed snow flurries here last week.
Even though Mother Nature might not always follow the calendar, there are certain customs and rituals that do. Specifically, I am talking about March Madness and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
If you are reading this and you have not completed your bracket, you better get busy. The play-in games are upon us and Round One is only days away. You don’t want to be caught unprepared. Family and workplace pools abound as would-be prognosticators predict the outcomes of games all the way to the finals.
There is additional enthusiasm in my family this year as Auburn University, the school all three of my children, my daughter-in- law and son-in- law attended (and which would, if there were any justice, name a building after me), makes its return to the tournament after a 15-year absence. My two sons have said they will complete at least one bracket that takes the Auburn Tigers all the way.
My older son, who will be attending a practice round of the Masters Golf Tournament with my younger son and son-in- law on April 2, the same day as the national championship game, said it is a day that has the potential to be the best of his life – his attending the storied golf event and Auburn winning it all.
The latter is a long shot, of course, and let’s hope some other major life event such as getting married or becoming a father would at least rival such a day. But I understand the sentiment.
Anyway, March Madness is a topic I have previously addressed in this space. I have reported having participated in numerous work and family bracket pools over the years, never having been a winner.
And my record holds.
I have tried every way imaginable to complete my bracket, or brackets, depending on how many pools I’m participating in (which, this year, is three – one in my family and two at work).
I have studied and analyzed the teams. I have picked all number-one seeds to go all of the way. I have picked no number-one seeds to go all the way. I have picked long shots and Cinderella teams. I’ve had years where I gave it very little thought and tried to simply fill it out as fast as I could and be done with it.
A few years have been better than others and one year I picked all the teams in the Final Four, but I’ve never won a pool.
It’s like I go to the big dance but I don’t seem to have a very good time.
One might think, after my many years of participation and the amount of money I have contributed to other people winning, I would give it up and decline to play. While that thought has occurred to me, there is something that always causes me to return.
That’s especially true of our family pool.
For years my father-in- law served as commissioner, and the rules were precise and unwavering. You got your money and bracket in by the Monday after Selection Sunday, or you didn’t play. Before we went digital with it, that meant your bracket had to be postmarked on that Monday or faxed to him.
My wife has now taken over the duties and she is a little more lenient. Everyone’s credit is good with her (especially mine). For those still doing it the old fashioned way and completing a paper bracket, she’ll accept their word it was filled out prior to the games beginning if she happens to receive it late.
And in return for her goodwill, we don’t question her about numbers and standings. We also know, with her long career in accounting, she’s not likely to make a mistake.
So let the fun – I guess I’ll still call it that — and games begin. I have a good feeling about this year.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.